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World Briefing / Cuba

Raul Castro looks inward on woes

July 27, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Raul Castro said the global economic crisis means tougher times ahead for Cuba but that the country has no one to blame but itself for poor farm production that leads to frequent shortages of fruits, vegetables and other basics.

In a speech marking Revolution Day, the president said the island can't pin all its problems on Washington's 47-year trade embargo. He implored Cubans to take better advantage of a government program begun last year to turn unused state land over to private farmers. "The land is there, here are the Cubans," he said. "Let's see if we get to work or not, if we produce or not, if we keep our word."

The line did not get much of a response from a crowd not thrilled about working under the island's scorching tropical sun, but Castro called agricultural production Cuba's top priority and a matter of national security.

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